“Often those that criticize others reveal what he himself lacks.” Shannon L. Alder
If you were approached in a critical manner regarding your manner of dress. How would you react to a comment such as, “Whoa, where’d you get that, it looks terrible on you, not the right colors and that pattern has to go.”
How would you respond? Might you automatically respond apologetically? Would you fully take in someone else’s opinion? Or would you respond with, “It’s easy to see that you’re not a fashion advisor for the stars”
I have another clothing question for you. What if you were approached not with criticism, but with praise? “OMG! That outfit is you! You look fantastic!
First, what would occur in your body as the compliments flowed your way? Healthy pride? Confidence? Embarrassment? Uneasiness?
And, how would you respond verbally? Would you fully accept the praise by responding, “Thanks! I too absolutely love the way it looks and feels on me. Thanks again!” or in your embarrassment or uneasiness, deflect the praise with comments such as, “Oh this, I got it at a bargain” or “Thanks, it’s nothing special.”
Let’s take the experience of meeting another for lunch. Right at the start, your friend says, “Lunch is on me today. I’m so happy to spend time with you again.” Is your response born of obligation? “OK, but I’ll get the tip” or “Thanks, it’s my turn next time?” Or better yet, is your response the ultimate statement of gratitude? “Thank you.”
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.” Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
Do experience a feeling of obligation or uneasiness when you receive a present, or perhaps an unexpected bounty of compliments or assistance of some form? Does gift receiving immediately evoke a response of “Gee, I didn’t get them anything” or “What should I buy for them?” It would make sense, given that our culture is rife with sayings about giving being morally above receiving. But maybe it’s not. And doesn’t such a philosophy create the hierarchy of the giver being better than the receiver?
Years ago, my wife, Marie and I lived on a circular court. Although we knew our neighbors quite well, as we had lived there for a number of years, we had not engaged in the practice of exchanging Christmas gifts. One year, Marie thought it a friendly gesture to send gifts to each, as a friendly neighborly gesture. It didn’t take long before the gifts started pouring in to us. Some rather costly ones.
The following year, we did not send nor receive any neighborly gifts. Let’s all say it together… Obligation!
“Gracious acceptance is an art – an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving…. Accepting another person’s gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you.” Alexander McCall Smith, Love Over Scotland
We must unlearn that receiving either implies obligation or must be earned. Or that it is “better” than receiving.
How can we be part of a cycle of universal giving and receiving, of true prosperity, if we are uncomfortable with receiving some of the most common gifts life offers such as compliments or cookies, or lunches, or neighborly Christmas gifts?
Someone once said, “Your body is the blossom of your mind.” Our bodies have a consciousness of their own; that consciousness is composed of what we have taught our bodies to believe and demand. How can we possibly demonstrate the awesome blossom of a healthy body, if in our mind we are uneasy with even the simplest good flowing to us?
I’m also left wondering how we would ever place ourselves in a position to request help or assistance if we’re uncomfortable with receiving it without feeling diminished. And, if there exists some underlying belief that I’m unworthy or undeserving of good things coming to me, then how can we ask for them, even if needed?
“Always give without remembering and always receive without forgetting.” Brian Tracy
While many avenues exist to change our thinking and create a greater degree of receptivity in our consciousness, I like to start with the simplest approach. So I suggest each of you respond in a particular manner when given a gift, a freebie, or when good flows to you in any of the endless ways it may.
Simply say, “Thank you.” No joking, no dismissing, no reciprocal remarks or acts, only “Thank you.”
Become comfortable with receiving and accepting life’s gifts without need to deny, diminish, or reciprocate for them. Respond with a simple “Thank you” and then enjoy what you’ve received.